By Marshall Raskind, Ph.D.
What's new in the world of research related to children with learning and attention difficulties? In this summary of current peer-reviewed research, Marshall Raskind, Ph.D., shares his expert perspective in practical terms for parents like you.
Although research in learning disabilities (LD) has grown considerably over the last several decades, few studies have captured the child's "inner experience" of living with an LD (i.e., the personal meaning of living with an LD as expressed directly by the children themselves). Some studies have attempted to reveal the "child's voice," however, they tend to have small numbers of participants and use interview techniques within artificial settings that do not foster free and uninhibited expression of the LD experience.
The Internet is emerging as a new venue for conducting research on the experience of children with LD. The fact that so many of our nation's youth now communicate with peers over the Internet creates a potential window from which to view the inner life of children with LD. This virtual, but authenticworld, where children exchange electronic communications on topics of personal significance and interest in what they consider to be a comfortable and safe environment, may provide researchers with a rich, new information source for capturing the children's voices and ultimately gaining a deeper understanding of what it is like to live with an LD.
Based on this line of thinking, my colleagues Dr. Malka Margalit and Dr. Eleanor Higgins and I launched an Internet-based study of LD from the "inside." We assumed that youth with LD would regard the Internet as a safe environment, allowing them to present and share the personal meaning of their LD. Our assumption evolved from previous research 1, 2 that indicated people using the Internet are inclined to reveal their "true selves" online and often disclose more about themselves than in face-to-face "real world" interactions. We believed that by studying the online messages of children and teens with LD that we could develop a deeper and richer understanding of their thoughts, feelings, and attitudes - both positive and negative. Further, we thought the study of their online communications would provide a portal from which to view their hopes, fears, needs, joys, as well as difficulties and frustrations.
Our research3 examined children's presentations of the "LD experience" as expressed in their online messages written on a pre-existing public website designed for children with learning and attention problems (SparkTop.org™). We reviewed and analyzed 4,903 email messages sent from the 164 self-identified LD participants, ages 9-18, to other users on the site over a period of approximately eighteen months. These messages had been sent to other self-identified LD participants, registered users who did not "identify" themselves as having LD, and guests. Messages sent to four animated fictionalized characters were also reviewed. These fictionalized characters are based on three actual teenagers ("teen mentors") who have LD, as well as an adult doctoral-level "LD expert."
Six major themes emerged from the analysis of children's messages:
Next we'll explore each of these themes in detail.
Tell us for a chance to win one of two $150 Amazon gift cards! Your input will help us better serve parents like you. The survey will only take a few minutes.
Sign up for our free newsletter and we'll send you
more just like it every week.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.